Volunteer first responders protected under new law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that will protect the jobs of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service personnel in declared emergencies, such as hurricanes and wildfires.

The bill (S.07111/A.09849), sponsored by Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, I-Sag Harbor, will protect the jobs of volunteer firefighters and EMS responders when they are late or miss work while doing volunteer work during declared emergencies.

These emergencies could be declared by the governor, or city, town, village or county executives.

Teams of firefighters and EMT’s have been called into action during significant, declared emergencies in New York state in recent years, including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

During those emergencies, more than one-third of New York’s 1,800 volunteer fire departments were sent to other parts of the state to help out.

“This law ensures that volunteer firefighters and EMTs who are called to assist in times of a major emergency such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires have a job to go home to. We want to thank Gov. Cuomo for recognizing the need to allow our first responders to operate without worrying if their ‘day job’ is safe when they’re called to help their fellow New Yorkers in a declared disaster,” said the President of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, Robert McConville.